Barrie Toghill
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Barrie Toghill - Aberdovey, Wales, 1961

First Entry

22nd July 1961


My first thoughts and feelings on arrival were those of tiredness through travelling and those of excitement on what I should find. From the train we were met by a Mr Lancaster and transported by Land Rover up to the school. Then we were told to go to a hut, each being designated by the name of a Sea Captain. Gellicoe was the hut to which I was assigned. These conditions were only a temporary measure until all our respective choices in training had been sorted out.

After dumping luggage and changing into gym kit we were to report to the matron of the school who checked our weight, height and pulse, both before and after exercise.

Next event was to get the school outfit, sheets and pillow slip from the school stores (trousers, smock and initialled pullover – O.B.S.S). The doctor came next and then tea. A meal was provided at around 8.30pm. Of course in between times we were getting to know and find our way about. All money and valuables were deposited at the school bank.

Bed came quickly but I found it very difficult to get to sleep, in fact it was nearly 2am before I must have gone to sleep. This was partly caused by a one Scot and one Welshman each arguing over the respective merits of each man’s country. Neither won I don’t think...

23rd July

Got up at 6.30am and changed into gym kit, went down onto the parade ground for PT followed by a shower. Our forenoon activity was a 6 mile walk known as Panorama Walk. It was very tiring but the scenery was to my way of thinking – magnificent and the colours and blends were the overriding feature.

25th July

The feeling of friendship and comradeship is steadily growing now that we are getting to all know one another. The general routine is steadily sinking in and we are all getting into it I think.

28th July

Today we were assigned with Mr Nicholson on a rock climbing expedition to Bird Rock, so called because it is the home of a colony of cormorants. We assembled plus kit around the Land Rover at around 9-10am and travelled about 12 miles. On arrival, we were spilt into 2 groups – one climbing and one abseiling. This was the first climbing I had ever done and I found it most exciting. I found it hard to remember the sequence of calls with which a climber can safely use with his partner. At first we only practised on a small rock, about 20 feet high. Then later we tried on a rock that was nearly flat with very few hand holds – this was quite difficult but after a time one gets used to it. In the afternoon we did the same again but with abseiling, practising on a small slope before we all went down the 120ft drop. At the top I felt like a leaf in the breeze and after I started I felt worse but then all of a sudden there was nothing to it and I wanted to do it again – marvellous.

2nd August

Today we were to do some sailing in the dinghy’s. Fabulous. The sea was quite calm in the morning but it freshened in the afternoon. The sailing technique is something I found quite difficult to follow but gradually I picked it up and found this fascinating. I enjoyed it immensely.

7th August

6 Day Expedition

Today is the big day. After getting ready and packed up with supplies of clothing yesterday, the suspense of getting out into the hills was quite great. We travelled from the school to Penhelig and from there by train to Talwrn Bach Halt. From this point we started walking and reached a mountain called Foel Ddu where we had our dinner. We then climbed another mountain called Rhining Fawn and it turned very cold and began to rain. We came down feeling very tired and weary.

9th August

Today is my birthday. I wake feeling quite tired out but very fresh after a good wash and a good solid breakfast. We managed to get packed and get away in 5 groups, each leaving at 10 minute intervals. From the mountain Cadar Idris we started last in the groups but funnily enough arrived at the top first, even stopping for 15 mins for a cup of coffee at a farmhouse. Our camping site was lower down in the valley and it took a long time to get down. I found that going down is a lot harder than going up! A very enjoyable day altogether I think was had by all.

11th August

Woke fresh, quite early. Today is the last full day of camping and this I find owes a feeling of finishing the march and a feeling of happiness goes with it. The position was almost perfect for camping, with the stream running alongside the camp to a small pool and a waterfall which we could use as a shower. The grass was thick and acted as a cushion for lying o. We made a fire in the late evening and the atmosphere was a lot better than it had been – it is amazing the difference a fire makes.

16th August

Today is clearing up day and all watches were posted to various sites for cleaning and clearing. We were to go down to the Wharf for cleaning and clearing of the boats and boathouse. We unrigged cutter number 4 and cleared all the gash for miles around. After marching back to school we had to draw out all our own belongings from the bank ready for our departure tomorrow....